We Need More (than) STEAM: Let’s Go for Life-Wide and Lifelong Education

  • Wolff-Michael RothEmail author
Part of the Environmental Discourses in Science Education book series (EDSE, volume 5)


Following the Sputnik shock, the hard sciences and mathematics worked to improve education within their disciplinary silos (S, T, E, M). Later, when it became apparent that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics were connected, educators turned to interdisciplinarity and connection focusing on STEM. But STEM, if integration was achieved at all, led to a new silo. Thus, after years of experimenting, it turned out that STEM might be better conceptualized within a broader perspective that also included the arts, giving rise to STEAM. This chapter suggests even more expansion that leads to considerations of education as life-wide and lifelong, and even dealing with institutional problems that result from isolating schooling from other activities that make society. I begin by describing alternative ways of teaching that have arisen in science. These ways are used as concrete materials for developing the theoretical base for the case made. The chapter concludes that education should be organized around solving real “wicked problems,” not sham problems created for the purpose of getting grades. This way, students could contribute to sustainability and society even while learning. The wicked problems require more than STEAM, because they also involve ethics, politics, sociology, and so on.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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